Creative Economies Africa

Researching Creative Economies in Africa: Seminars Series 2024-2025

This seminar series – supported by funding from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities of King’s College London – brings together a range of international researchers and academics exploring new topics and ideas around the development of creative economies in Africa. We aim to hold 6 online seminars in the next 18 months. The seminars are open to all. If you would like to receive updates via email please subscribe to our mailing list.

13th June 2024 2pm GMT Online ( Zoom Registration)

Register to attend:

The second seminar will include a paper on Trading and protecting cultural goods in Africa: economic and socio-cultural perspective by Patrick Kabanda (Author of The Creative Wealth of Nations
Can the Arts Advance Development?

Synopsis: Africa’s arts and cultural wealth, which is immensely rich, can make a significant contribution to the continents progress.  Yet, as the United Nations Development Programme puts it, Africa’s share of the global creative economy represents less than 1 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product, which, as of 2023, was around $3 trillion.  Why is that the case?  One way to change this picture is to promote meaningful trade in Africa’s creative products in the framework of economic diversification.  Along those lines, this seminar will explore questions such as the following: How can Africa boost its trade in creative services using the World Trade Organization’s Four Modes of Supply?  How can the African Continental Free Trade Area fully expand Africa’s creative trade?  What are the best ways to preserve Africa’s cultural output?  And finally, since the arts’ contribution is beyond monetary reward, in what ways can the social contribution of trade in African creative output be better promoted?

The seminar will be chaired by Prof. Jen Snowball (Rhodes University)

Patrick Kabanda
Patrick Kabanda is a Juilliard-trained organist and a Fletcher-trained international affairs professional. He received Juilliard’s William Schuman Prize for outstanding achievement and leadership in music in 2003, and from 2012 to 2013 he was a Charles Francis Adams Scholar at The Fletcher School. Besides concertizing and lecturing worldwide, he has taught at Phillips Academy, consulted for the World Bank’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, and contributed to the World Development Report 2016 and UNDP’s Human Development Report 2015. He was awarded the 2013 Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service from Tufts University, Massachusetts.


18th March 2024 1-2.15pm UK Time Online ( Zoom Registration)

The first seminar will include two papers. Locating African Cultural Agency in the Global Digital Economy: The Case of Music Platform Insider Activists by Jaana Serres (University of Groningen) and Imaginaries of platform entrepreneurship: techno-optimism and subversion in Ghanaian filmmaking by Robin Steedman (Copenhagen Business School)

The seminar now available on our Youtube channel watch it here:


Locating African Cultural Agency in the Global Digital Economy: The Case of Music Platform Insider Activists. While academic literature commonly denounces the corporate takeover, or recolonization, of African cultural industries associated with digital capitalism, African music stakeholders widely enact digital platforms as political vehicles to be seized upon for resistance against global marginalization. The past few years have witnessed a significant evolution in platforms’ intermediary function—from the Chinese-owned Boomplay and American startup Audiomack that dominate the continent’s music streaming market, to the GAFA’s newly aggressive strategy in Africa—they have emerged as actors of African music industries. Moving beyond the academic focus on data colonialism and the reproduction of hegemonies through algorithmic bias, this presentation foregrounds the self-identified “African” agents who steer these corporations and the symbolic, economic, and affective practices that they mediate in order to account for the hopes and political stakes invested into platform capitalism from the continent.

Jaana Serres is a postdoctoral researcher in media, cultural industries, and society at the University of Groningen. From 2018 to 2021, she was the Ioma Evans‐Pritchard scholar in the social anthropology of Africa at Oxford University, where she completed her PhD on the “Africa to the world” movement through the lens of the Nigerian music industry. Prior to her academic career, Jaana practiced law in New York, Paris and London, where she advised multilateral organizations, African governments, and multinational corporations. 

Imaginaries of platform entrepreneurship: techno-optimism and subversion in Ghanaian filmmaking Do platforms offer a level playing field to hitherto marginalized filmmakers, such as African filmmakers? Are these platforms a space where anything is possible? According to techno optimist imaginaries—imaginaries commonly propagated by Silicon Valley—the answer is yes. But such imaginaries of digital reach, growth, and prosperity must be rigorously interrogated. In this presentation that is precisely what I will do through the case of filmmakers in Ghana. I will show that platforms are taken up techno-optimistically by filmmakers in Ghana, but that this is only part of the story. Equally, filmmakers critique platforms and reflect carefully on the skills and access needed to benefit from them. Even more powerfully, they subvert universalizing imaginaries through the creation of distinctly Ghanaian alternatives.

Robin Steedman is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Creative Industries in Africa at Copenhagen Business School. She is interested in global creative and cultural industries, and in questions of diversity and inequality in media production, distribution, and viewership. Her work has been published in journals, such as Poetics, Information, Communication & Society, and Environment and Planning A. Her first book, Creative Hustling: Women Making and Distributing Films from Nairobi, was recently published by The MIT Press.